The 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race is the latest motorcycling event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Originally scheduled for 19 July, the early stages of the pandemic – and Japan’s declaration of a national state of emergency in response - saw the FIM shift the date for this year’s Endurance World Championship finale to 1 November.
While hopes remained high for the November date to be honoured, ongoing travel bans to Japan and an increasing centralisation of international motorcycle sport within Europe led to the event’s cancellation on 12 August.
With foreign riders making up a large portion of the 8 Hour’s entries (and a big part of the annual race’s appeal), the continuation of a Japanese government ban on international arrivals would have made such a grid impossible this year, turning the 8 Hour into a domestic race. As such, the 8 Hour’s organisers, Mobilityland Corporation, made the decision to cancel this year’s event.
“We had been preparing for the “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race to be held on November 1st together with all of the fans and stakeholders involved in this race event but, with anguish, we find no alternative but to make the decision to cancel it in consideration of the continued spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Japan and overseas and the fact that there is no prospect of deregulation of immigration restrictions on visitors from abroad at this stage,” said Kaoru Tanaka, President Representative Director of Mobilityland Corporation.
“We are determined to make preparations so that the 2021 Suzuka 8 Hours event will be even more enjoyable for the fans than ever before.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events: “We have been working hard with Mobilityland to reschedule the race from July to November – a first since 1978 – and then to organise entry into Japan for international teams and riders with a special business visa. Our hopes have evaporated with immigration restrictions for foreigners. The cancellation of the 2020 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours is not a question of spectators’ access. The decision was made not to run this iconic race as a domestic event. The Suzuka 8 Hours, the most prestigious endurance race in the world over the last 40 years, shall not run without top international riders.”
Jorge Viegas, President of the International Motorcycling Federation: “The cancellation of the iconic race of the Suzuka 8 Hours is really very sad news, but we must accept the Japanese government’s decision that takes into account the safety measures for the health of the population. In these difficult times, I want to thank all the efforts made by our promoter Eurosport Events, the organiser Mobilityland and MFJ. All the fans can be sure we will come back in 2021 with the best race ever!”
The cancellation of the 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours, the first in the event’s 42-year history, follows cancellation of other iconic motorcycle sport events in 2020, including the Isle of Man TT and Classic TT/Manx GP, Motocross of Nations, International Six Day Enduro and several overseas rounds of the MotoGP and Superbike World Championships.
At time of writing, the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans on 29-30 August and the Bol d’Or at Paul Ricard on 19-20 September (both on the 2019-20 EWC calendar) are going ahead.